Waugh and Solitude

In an article on the weblog PanAm Post, Alejandro Jenkins declares the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez to be overrated. One reason for this is the underdeveloped characters:

The idea behind Hundred Years of Solitude (to create a saga-esque mythology for post-independence Latin America) is attractively ambitious, to be sure, but the actual execution is almost entirely lifeless. The key problem is that there’s hardly any character in it that can hold any interest for the reader, or that even has a well defined personality. … GarcĂ­a Márquez himself must’ve been aware of this, because he re-uses the same names over and over, until the reader hardly knows or cares who’s who. … But this is a huge weakness in a work of literature (it reminds of the joke in Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall about an avant-garde film that failed at the box office because of its “austere elimination of all human characters”).

Another novel (this one more recent and described by Amazon as a #1 international best seller) is said to have been influenced by Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. This is The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fennolera. This influence is explained by its author in a paper presented at a recent conference at Clear Creek Abbey in Oklahoma:

The reason I mention Evelyn Waugh and the clear understanding he had about the effect of grace in himself, is because his Brideshead Revisited served as a model for me, as I traced out the story of conversion in The Awakening of Miss Prim. In his magnificent novel, Waugh tried to explain, within the bounds of possibility, how grace guides us through the events of our lives, through the people we know, through our joys and our pains, through the contemplation of beauty and, most especially, through our wounds and failures. That is what I tried to do in the book, within all the limitations imposed by this theme…Waugh himself once said that conversion is like climbing up a chimney, passing from a world of shadows, where everything is like a caricature, to the real world. Cardinal John Henry Newman’s epitaph reflects a similar idea: “Out of shadows and images unto the Truth.”

The paper is available in The American Conservative.

Finally, in today’s Yorkshire Post there is an illustrated story of the Temple of the Four Winds at the Castle Howard estate near York.

…in both the film and the television series, The Temple of the Four Winds was the location for a frivolous day of wine-tasting and indulgence for central characters Charles Ryder and Sebastian Flyte. Building of Castle Howard began in 1699 and took more than 100 years to complete, with work on The Temple of the Four Winds starting in 1724 and not being completed until 1738. Architect Sir John Vanbrugh who designed the temple modelled on the Villa La Rotonda is a Renaissance villa just outside Vicenza in Italy did not live to see its completion, dying in 1726.

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